I can't do it

I can't do it
Photo by John Cronin

Today the great Jim Ruland joins us to write about seeing Dead & Company at The Sphere and Devo at Punk Rock Bowling on back to back nights in Las Vegas. You'll need be a paid subscriber to read that one down below or you can jump to it here:

Suburban Robots That Monitor Reality
The Dead & Devo in Las Vegas

The woman in the pink pajama bottoms was writhing in anguish splayed out across three waiting room chairs which I suppose isn't out of the ordinary for an emergency department but I thought perhaps naively that someone would be arriving sooner than this to help her. To collect her up. Swaddle her. At least usher her backstage. Certainly they can't let this play out I thought.

You sometimes think that's how it works but then you remember. You might just get left somewhere.

I can't do it she said. I can't do it. Over and over. I can't do it. Punctuated only by a brief moment of heroic resolve. I can do it. I can do it. One out of twenty.

It was some kind of withdrawal or come down situation I presumed having been through a similar routine a number of times myself over the years more often than not on the floor of my bedroom or bathroom twisting and twisting like a tornado and praying and praying and punching myself in the face out of some deluded and desperate plan to bring on merciful temporary oblivion. Eternal maybe who cares just not this.

I sat there on the morning of Memorial Day unclear of the etiquette in these sorts of situation with a few elderly couples and a smattering of random assholes around the room waiting for their version of pain to be addressed on the record and I thought about how much better I was going to feel when some professional arrived and appraised my own suffering. Gave me a thorough once over. When they look you up and down and say it's not as bad as you were worried that it was going to be.

The relief of that.

How stupid we are.

She had her hoodie pulled up over her head so I couldn't tell how old she was. I thought around my age but the pajamas made her seem so much younger to me. It's confounding because addiction makes you old beyond your years over time but also often renders you an infant.

You can do it I said sort of under my breath as she puked into a blue plastic bag they must have given her earlier. You can do it uh m'am. But I knew that was nothing to her. Is nothing to anyone.

You can do it.

A sneaker commercial.

That doesn't help anyone.

I didn't think she could do it to be honest.

I got a text and it looked like the Democrats were having some kind of big 700% donation matching deal going on and I thought wow better not pass up on this opportunity while it's hot. I texted M. that it didn't seem that busy all things considered what with the holiday and the time of morning so they'd probably come take care of me soon I surmised.

I can't do it she said and I looked around and all of the nurses were going about their normal routine and I guess they would know better than me when something really bad is happening. That's the main thing it's their job to know.

A big sign reading triage over one of their desks.

Like when there's turbulence and you look at the flight attendants and they're still dicking around on their phones back there so you know you're not going to die this time.

I can't do it.

I can't do it personally if I'm being honest. Any of this. I can but I can't. Not sure how much longer I can either way.

So then they called me in and I pretend jogged up like I was on a game show and explained standing their with my weight belt on that my guts were absolutely fucked but the thing was I didn't know if it was a drinking every day as a middle aged man scenario or lifting weights every day as a middle aged man scenario or both but the meat of the thing was that I couldn't sit down without severe discomfort in my lower abdomen and also it was painful to you know what no the other you know what the nice one and that over night out of nowhere I had developed a pot belly. A distended abdomen I guess it's called. They put me in a bed and hooked me up to the machines and sucked out my blood through the tubes and the piss through my penis and long story short they did all the images and tests and were ultimately like well uh it's nothing bad that we can see probably just a pulled muscle and they were all very nice and professional about it but after all just sent me back out on my way to deal with it on my own. Deal with everything.

The worst part is since it was a holiday the gym was closing early and I missed my chance to go. Instead I went for a long for me run in the humid air and the mosquitos feasted on my shins and elbows and I felt so much better right then and there doing that and will feel so much worse in the long term having done it.

I had a few pieces of short short fiction in Flaming Hydra this week which you can read here:

5 things real quick
Fiction by Luke O’Neil The closet I was feeling around for the nest in the back of the closet and there it was just where my daughter had been saying it was supposed to have been all week and a certain amount of guilt came over me with that realization.

I can't think of anything much more evil than bombing refugee camp tents of displaced people you forced to go there because it was "safe" and burning the people in them to death. Saying they had it coming is a very close second.

Every day I wake up the dumbest asshole alive – hold on the sentence isn't over yet – every day I wake up the dumbest asshole alive and think that this will be the day that Joe Biden says alright that's enough killing and starving of Palestinians. This is finally at long last enough. I still sort of think that might happen even now. There's something wrong with me.

At least there's more of this going on.

The Guardian:

Two more US officials have resigned over the Gaza war, saying that the Biden administration is not telling the truth about Israeli obstruction of humanitarian assistance to more than two million Palestinians trapped and starving in the tiny coastal strip.

Alexander Smith, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said he was given a choice between resignation and dismissal after preparing a presentation on maternal and child mortality among Palestinians, which was cancelled at the last minute by USAID leadership last week.

Smith, a senior adviser on gender, maternal health, child health, and nutrition chose to resign on Monday after four years at USAID. In his resignation letter to the head of the agency, Samantha Power, he complained about the inconsistencies in USAID’s approach to different countries and humanitarian crises, and the general treatment of Palestinians.

“I cannot do my job in an environment in which specific people cannot be acknowledged as fully human, or where gender and human rights principles apply to some, but not to others, depending on their race,” he wrote.


Veteran State Department official Stacy Gilbert quit the agency because the Biden administration is “twisting the facts” to make a “patently, demonstrably, quantifiably false” claim that Israel is not blocking humanitarian aid for Gaza in order to justify his administration’s continued military support to the country, she told HuffPost on Wednesday in the first interview since her resignation.

Gilbert, who has over 20 years experience in U.S. policy toward global crises and conflicts, said she is convinced Israel’s U.S.-backed operation in the Palestinian enclave is violating international humanitarian law — particularly by restricting supplies for its civilian population...

Gilbert told her colleagues she was quitting May 10, immediately after the Biden administration released a report on Israeli conduct on which she had worked. Referring to that assessment, which Biden had promised would probe Israeli compliance with American and international law, Gilbert told HuffPost: “It just doesn’t matter. … We could have AI write the report because it is not informed by reality or context or the informed opinions of subject matter experts.”

What about the famous pier though? Wasn't that supposed to be getting aid through?

Ah well nevertheless. A fitting ending to what was from day one a sick fucking farce. Absolute morality theater. Shooting a flamethrower at a house while pissing on it at the same time trying to put out the fire.

I don't think I really feel anything about the Trump verdict yet. I can’t squeeze a drop of dopamine out of it. I suppose it's funny that Mr. I Love to Do Crimes and Never Face Any Consequences finally faced a consequence. I guess there is that. And I guess it's funny that every Trump supporter is talking like this now:

Fentanyl Exposure: Myths, Misconceptions, and the Media
An analysis of fentanyl exposure stories in the news

Here's some very good analysis on the ways the media has covered the fentanyl exposure myth by Zach Siegel. "This report documents the breadth of misreporting on fentanyl exposure, details a breakdown of journalistic standards, highlights the public health and safety consequences of inaccurate reporting, showcases examples of coverage that get the story right, and offers tips for reporting on similar issues," he writes.

Siegel previously wrote about the subject for Hell World:

The cops and local news won’t stop lying about fentanyl
Cops lie

Here's some good news out of Minnesota:

Minnesota Just Became The Latest State to Eliminate Prison Gerrymandering - Bolts
A new law will end the practice of counting incarcerated people where prisons are located, which skews political power within the state.

The Prison Policy Initiative has a lot more information about the growing number of states who have or are planning to end the practice of prison gerrymandering which you should read about here.

I wrote about the practice in Hell World a couple years ago.

A massive feedback loop of disenfranchisement
Shut up he might hear you
"Some state legislative districts draw large portions of their political clout, not from actual residents, but from the presence of a large prison in the district," according to the Prison Gerrymandering Project. "The districts with large prisons get to send a representative to the state capital to advocate for their interests without meeting the required number of residents"

"Because prisons are disproportionately built in rural areas but most incarcerated people call urban areas home, counting prisoners in the wrong place results in a systematic transfer of population and political clout from urban to rural areas."

For example: “60% of Illinois' prisoners are from Cook County (Chicago), yet 99% of them are counted outside the county.”

Pretty slick shit right? First you arrest predominantly Black people from large population centers that tend to vote Democrat. Next you cage them in more rural places where the prisons are thereby inflating that district’s raw representational power. Now areas who rely on prisons for jobs and power and wealth can have a leg up on passing legislation that will send more Black people into those same prisons in a massive feedback loop of disenfranchisement.

Understanding all that you might get why Republicans are so fucking afraid of kids being taught how our country actually works and how it always has which has been centuries of cheating to ensure entrenched minority-rule by depriving as many people as possible besides white Christian conservatives the power of the vote.

Suburban Robots That Monitor Reality

The Dead & Devo in Las Vegas

by Jim Ruland

In 1989 I was an acid-eating, tie-dye t-shirt wearing, hacky-sack playing college freshman, so if you’d told me that in 35 years I’d get to see the Dead and Devo, and that one of them would be performing in the most technologically innovative music venue known to man, and the other would be playing in a parking lot, I would have been dead wrong about who was performing where. 

Over Memorial Day weekend I went to see Dead & Company at The Sphere and Devo at Punk Rock Bowling, the annual music festival and bowling tournament in downtown Las Vegas, on back-to-back nights. 

I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’ve been sober for 15 years. You might think Las Vegas would be triggering for me but it isn’t. Las Vegas is the people watching capital of America. But I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t wondered what it would be like to experience hallucinogens again. The dark majesty of lysergic voyages, whimsical excursions into psilocybinlandia, the shot-from-a-cannon feeling of mescaline. I loved it all and I was always up for a trip.

My only bad trip was at a Grateful Dead show during Chinese New Year at the Oakland Coliseum in January 1993. I should clarify that I am not, and never have been, a Grateful Dead fan. I was there for the drugs.